The City of Encinitas has done some very cool things with our bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure in recent years, and we could use your help to keep the momentum going!
This Wednesday, December 8, the Encinitas City Council will decide whether to move forward, using a $650,000 state grant for a two-way protected bike lane on Highway 101 from Chesterfield Drive to the Swami’s railroad undercrossing at Santa Fe Drive. This is an exciting opportunity.
Cycle tracks are very popular with bicyclists, planners and road safety advocates, and they’re being built all over the country. Studies show they reduce the risk of injury and make biking more popular.
The way the road is now
Last weekend I took the photos above to show you the current condition of Highway 101 between Chesterfield Drive and the railroad track undercrossing at Swami’s. The road is very wide in places, and bikes are currently completely unprotected from cars. There’s great potential for better bicycle safety and enjoyment!
The proposed bike improvements do not change or modify the existing barrier-protected walking path on the west side of Highway 101 that is heavily used.
The way it could be
When the two-way bike track is completed, it’ll look something like these examples below from other California cities:
This Encinitas city staff report does a great job of concisely laying out the project and provides the above photos.
Here are some more important details about the benefits of two-way cycle tracks:
- The term “two way cycle-tracks” means bikes going in both directions beside each other, like a narrow two-lane road. They’ve been approved by theNACTO (National Association of City Transportation Officials) guidelines, and places like Seattle are installing safe and very effective two-way bike facilities almost exclusively now.
For example, see this research article, Risk of Injury for Bicycling on Cycle Tracks Versus in the Street, which concludes that “the injury risk of bicycling on cycle tracks is less than bicycling in streets.”
- According to the group People for Bikes, about a third of all cycle tracks in the U.S. are two-way. (I love their motto, “More People Riding Bikes More Often.”) You can check them out at their website.
- A two-way cycle track on the west side of the Coast Highway is great because people want to be where the ocean is, and the plan allows us to add about 50 additional beach parking spots, instead of removing parking to make room for biking. And for bike riders who don’t want to ride in a protected area, the city’s proposed plan includes a continuous, unprotected (painted) bike lane in addition to the protected bike lane.
- The term “two way cycle-tracks” means bikes going in both directions beside each other, like a narrow two-lane road. They’ve been approved by theNACTO (National Association of City Transportation Officials) guidelines, and places like Seattle are installing safe and very effective two-way bike facilities
almost exclusively now.
- You may wonder whether that’s too much space allotted for bike riders. It’s important to note that the road is very wide through most of the corridor, and this plan will essentially move the car drivers to the east side of the road. Drivers are not expected to face additional congestion because of the new bike track. Also in my experience, the most vocal opponents of barrier-protected bike facilities are sport cyclists who don’t want to be trapped inside facilities with slower riders and believe that they are safest on a wide open road with cars. So it’s great that this proposal also includes unprotected bike lanes for the many existing, long-haul riders who use this corridor and feel comfortable riding with cars. There is basically something for everyone.
- Some folks have expressed concern that the protected bike lane to the south of Chesterfield Drive headed to Solana Beach is uni-directional. I recognize that it’s not ideal that the facilities are different throughout the city. It’s worth noting that many riders in that section are already using the west-side facility south of Chesterfield as if it’s a two-way facility because they don’t want to cross Highway 101 and the ocean is on the west side.
- Our entire Highway 101 corridor goes through many changes as the built environment changes – commercially bustling downtown Encinitas is different from Leucadia, which is under construction with Streetscape, which is also different from the section we’re discussing at Council this week. Some areas have commerce on both sides, and some don’t have any commerce at all, like this section.
This exciting project is well-designed. My governing philosophy is: Let’s make things happen! Let’s say “Yes” to projects that improve our circumstances. We shouldn’t let “analysis paralysis” or disagreement over minor details stall or derail this great, grant-funded opportunity.
We can do this now, and we should! Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good!
Here’s how you can help make it happen
If you’d like to see another great facility in the city where cars are physically separated from other types of road users, please share your view that this is something you support!
You can speak to the City Council by coming to our meeting in person, at 505 S. Vulcan Ave. The meeting starts at 6 p.m., and I expect us to get to this item after 7 p.m. Before you head to City Hall, you can look at the meeting online here to determine how quickly things are going. To speak, fill out a pink speaker slip and you’ll have three minutes to voice your thoughts.
If you’d like to send an email instead of appearing in person, please send it to [email protected]; this goes to all five city council members. If you email us and you support this facility, please share your own reason why (for example, you feel safer riding with your kids or safer as an older adult when you are physically protected from cars). Personal emails are more effective than form emails.
It’s okay if you don’t deeply know every detail; as someone who travels our roads, your opinion is welcome – it’s a big part of what makes local government work successfully. You can read the staff report here and let us know your perspective.
Did you see this article?
Creating safe and efficient bicycle infrastructure is emerging as a big issue in the news these days. In fact, check out the cover story in the Thanksgiving Day edition of the San Diego Reader.
The author of the story, Thomas K. Arnold, does a deep dive into the history of bicycling. His article says that despite controversies over the types of bike lanes and e-bike safety, we are seeing more bike riding and bike infrastructure, and that’s a great thing for the environment and for our health. I was honored to be interviewed and featured in his story.
And about those e-bikes…
The city is working to address the recent omnipresence of e-bikes and the issues that surround them. E-bikes can make a tremendous contribution to the future of clean and efficient transportation if they’re used sensibly. We take bicycling safety seriously and understand the concerns that many have.
We’re teaming with the Sheriff’s Department and bike advocates to provide e-bike safety instruction at assemblies for area middle schools. There are also classes on e-bike safety at the Encinitas Senior & Community Center put on by the San Diego County Bicycle Coalition. While there are different proposals for licensing and educational requirements regarding e-bikes, these regulatory efforts aren’t centered at the city level.
And finally, thank you for your interest in active transportation, climate friendly improvements and enhancements to our quality of life! I hope to see you at our City Council meeting Wednesday night!
P.S. The jubilant return of the Encinitas Holiday Parade!